Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book of the Month: December 2011

Imagine a world where a small spacecraft from far, far, away crash lands.....not in Kansas, but rather 12 hours later....in the Ukraine. Raised in the Soviet Union, taught the beliefs of the communist, dedicated to the Proletariat against any and all threats....what would Superman be like? SUPERMAN: RED SON explores and challenges the mythos of comic's greatest icon.  This is one of the best Superman books ever published, a self-contained story that would make a great Christmas gift for the comic book fan in your family!

(from President Eisenhower) "My fellow Americans, it has long been the duty of this great office to make public those developments which may affect our standing as a free and democratic Nation.  I regret to inform you that such a development took place this morning.

The Soviet Authorities today released to the world, secret government pictures of a costumed individual more effective than our hydrogen bomb...an alien Superman committed to communist ideals whose very existence threatens to alter our position as a world superpower forever..."

As Superman begins making appearances, showing feats of strength and heroism after making his journey from the farm lands to Moscow.....he is revealed to the world as he saves Metropolis from an out-of-control Soviet satellite...and comes face-to-face with Lois Lane, Dr. Lex Luthor's wife.

Back in the U.S.S.R., Superman is celebrated as a Hero of the People, and meets Wonder Woman of Paradise Island...Stalin's son; head of the N.K.V.D., shoots two dissidents printing anti-superman propaganda. Their son survives, and vows vengeance. Stalin passes away, and Superman is made President of the Soviet Union.  Meanwhile, Dr. Luthor has created his own "duplicate" Superman for the United States.

Superman destroys Brainiac (saving only his head), and takes the Bottle City of Kandor from Luthor, who spends years and countless millions creating an entire Rogue Gallery of super-powered individuals to battle against Superman and his communist ideals.  But Superman's greatest threat comes from within.....Anarchy in Black....The Batman! Batman kidnaps Wonder Woman and beats down Superman under red sunlight....Diana frees herself and frees Superman from the red sunlight, leading Batman detonate the nuclear bomb planted within his body, hurting and changing Wonder Woman forever.

Years pass, Luthor becomes President of the United States, and Soviet President Superman becomes more and more bitter as communism spreads over nearly the entire Earth.  Luthor unleashes Hal Jordan; Codename: Green Light, one of several attempts being made by Luthor to take down Superman and the Red Menace.

President Luthor launches a desperate, all-out offensive on Superman, who's only ally is Brainiac....who has gained Superman's trust as an advisor. Superman goes to war for the communist ideal, and thrashes the Green Lantern Corps, the warrior-women of Paradise Island, and Luthor himself.  But Luthor has a secret weapon, so powerful that it can stop even Superman in his tracks.....

Realizing that Brainiac has double-crossed him, and still reeling from the effects of Luthor's secret weapon, Superman destroys Brainiac once and for all, and sacrifices all to save the United States from Brainiac's self-destructing ship.  The World embraces "Luthorism", Dr. Luthor checkmates Superman in chess.....has many, many offspring over thousands of years, our sun slowly turns red, and distant children of Luthor send their infant son back in time to change things for the better.....the rocket-ship crash lands in the Ukraine, Russia, in 1938.

I haven't read a lot of Mark Millar's work, but he has my unending respect for writing Superman: Red Son. Wonderfully enjoyable and balanced (he wasn't preachy either toward communism or capitalism), he proves that Superman is timeless, and that his values can exist anywhere. Dave Johnson's artwork is stunning! Some of it so good, I thought about buying all green and red clothes and calling my local chapter of the Socialist party....just kidding.  Easily one of the Top 5 Graphic Novels I've ever read, this is the perfect Christmas Gift for the comic book fan on your list, for anyone interested in communism or the cold war era, or for anyone who just enjoys reading a great story.
Citizen's Grade: Awesome.

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